"A Woman of Great Courage": Special Collections Exhibit Celebrates Women Printers

Special Collections

In honor of Women's History Month, a new curated by Special Collections head Sue Luftschein highlights the often unsung role of women in the printing trade in Early Modern Europe through rare books from the USC Libraries' Special Collections.

As Luftschein notes in her introduction to A Woman of Great Courage: Women in the Printing Trades in Early Modern Europe, women printers labored in the face of gender stereotypes:

...[E]ven in printing families, women were not presented as equals to their fathers, brothers and husbands. The way women were presented publicly reinforced assumptions about women’s inability to run businesses. For example, Charlotte Guillard was described by a corrector (editor) who worked in her shop as a “woman of great courage”. This identification reflected Guillard’s unique position in a world where women were historically excluded from the places of knowledge production.

Featuring twelve rare books from the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, the exhibit is currently on display outside the USC Libraries Special Collections entrance on Doheny Library's second floor. An expanded version highlighting nearly four dozen women printers is also available in digital form.